2022 Player Ratings: Matt Grzelcyk will look to bounce back from tough season

Matt Grzelcyk in 2022

Key statistics: 73GP, 4G, 20A, 24PTS

Other statistics: 18:44 ATOI, 55.9% CF (5v5), 58.3% oZS (5v5)

Reader’s note: 5.7

Writer’s note: 6.3

When you think about it, injuries have been tough for Matt Grzelcyk.

A cheap shot knocked him out of most of the 2019 final. He bounced back to play 68 games in 2019-20 and then was limited to just 37 games the following season.

Last year, Grzelcyk separated his shoulder in January and estimated he had played around 50 games with the injury.

I guess the goal here isn’t necessarily to make excuses, but to provide some context: Grzelcyk certainly wasn’t at his best last season, but you can’t help but wonder how much of that was due to a shoulder that “would have kept going in and out.

It’s no secret that for many of you regular commentators, Grzelcyk’s play has been a sore spot at times this season, especially down the stretch and in the Carolina series.

The skating, attacking, slippery instincts that make him effective as a mobile defender haven’t completely disappeared, but have often been overshadowed by inconsistencies or (in some cases) glaring errors.

Also, Grzelcyk was given nights off from time to time to ease that sore shoulder, which kept him from developing any sort of rhythm.

To be fair, however, Grzelcyk was far from a disaster this season.

He had the second-best 5v5 CF% of his career, most points, and highest expected +/-; we can also argue the merits of the standard +/- stat, but that +22 mark was also the highest of his career.

Still, the shoulder injury was clearly causing him problems – it seems silly to put it that way, but Grzelcyk just didn’t look good for stretching last season.

Ultimately, his nagging injuries saw him sit out the team’s final two games against Carolina.

Bruce Cassidy hinted at Grzelcyk playing through some things at the time, a silent acknowledgment of both injuries and the resulting drop in quality.

Luckily for Grzelcyk, he was lucky enough to get that injury treated this summer. While no one wants to miss the opening month of the season, giving Grzelcyk a chance to return to good health will only benefit the team.

Grzelcyk has two years left on his current contract, which carries a cap of $3,687,500.

At his best, he remains an effective player and has been a good complement to Brandon Carlo in second pairing in the past.

Considering what he had to deal with for the vast majority of last season, it would be a bit unfair to consider Grzelcyk a player in decline.

Instead, let’s hope a fully healthy Grzelcyk can return to his pre-injury 2020-21 form.

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